tv NOW With Alex Wagner MSNBC May 9, 2014 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT
saved an average of $498 a year. just a few more ways allstate is changing car insurance for good. [ female announcer ] call an allstate agent and get a quote now. iced out. it is friday, may 9th, and this is "now." >> we're adjourned. >> close it down. >> thank you. >> benghazi. >> benghazi. >> benghazi. >> damaged goods. they ought to move from him with another venue with another chairman. >> this is a full neutering of chairman issa and his 16 months of work. >> thank you. >> this is how "the new york times" editorial board put it. the hottest competition in washington this week is among house republicans vying for a seat on the benghazi kangaroo court. >> it's a kangaroo court. >> a national republican conventional committee has been trying to fund raise off this issue that kind of adds some fuel to the fire of democrats
saying this is just politics. >> this is a stunt. this is a political stunt. >> if the republicans did not have a majority in the congress, there would not be an investigation. elect republicans so that we can have these kinds of investigations. >> this is the full neutering. >> thank you. >> the full neutering of chairman issa and his 16 months of work. >> benghazi. >> benghazi. >> benghazi. >> thank you. >> the wait is over. one week after sharply reversing course and opening up the chasm of calamity, speaker john boehner has chosen between seven lucky republicans will get to relitigate, grandstand, fear monger and believe yat around the attacks that left four americans dead. chairman and attorney trey gowdy will lead the gop seven, representative susan brooks, martha roby and pete roskam.
jim jordan, mike pompeo and westmoreland. it was revealed with all the hash tags that are usually reserved for national tragedies? in an exuberantly fonted announcement, house speaker john boehner said meet your majority members of the select committee on benghazi. yes, america, meet them. except there is one person in america -- there is one person america will not be meeting. one person who is distinctly missing from the house select committee on benghazi. one person who has spent nearly 16 months of his life fear mongering and grandstanding on this mr. issue, mr. benghazi himself, congressman and chairman of the house oversight reform committee, darrell issa. the man who has waved the torch through the darkest hours of
this witch hunt since the very beginning. that man has now been, pardon the pun but it is too easy to pass up. that man has been totally iced out by his own party. darrell issa, the man who just last week was issuing subpoenas to the secretary of state. ah, the good old days. he has not been invited to this republican fund-raising fiesta. but why? perhaps because darrell issa has failed spectacularly in his mission to find something, anything suggesting that the attacks in benghazi were part of a white house cover-up and in the process he has made clear that the umpteenth into benghazi is pure partisan high jinx. it's possible he knew he was destined not to be part of the benghazi bash. nancy pelosi didn't think he would score an invite earlier today. >> issa just is damaged goods. they had to move from him to another venue with another chairman. that's what this is. >> for the moment, republicans are doing their best to mitigate
his public humiliation. speaker boehner's office reaffirmed to us that issa's role is very important and noted that his committee has uncovered a great deal of information and he and that work will be vital assets as we dig deeper. also very important, that darrell issa remain as far away from the proceedings as possible. joining me now is the representative from new york's 14th district and the vice chair of the house democratic caucus, congressman joseph crowley. congressman crowley, thanks for joining me on this spectacularly absurd day on capitol hill. >> thank you. >> you said that this effectively is the full neutering of chairman issa and his 16 months of work. that was earlier in the week. what are your feelings today knowing now what we do that darrell issa is not even sitting on this select committee. >> after suffering through a number of very bad barker jokes from my colleagues, i think it
really is reflective of what we've been saying all along, that a committee chairman gone rogue in a committee structure, that isn't fair, isn't balanced and really isn't very open has led, i think, to his demise. even darrell issa, as you said, the iceman, wasn't able to produce for the republican caucus. the thirst for blood on their side from the white house, he failed in his mission. now they're off to congressman gowdy to see if he can pull something out of the hat. we all know in the end, alex, that there's nothing there. the only smoking gun that's there is a cap gun, once again. lots of smoke but nothing much more than that. >> congressman, it's a farce, it's theatrics, it's fund-raising, but are democrats going to participate? everyone was looking for some kind of conclusive answer from the minority leader today. nancy pelosi remained opaque. what is the latest that you can give us from the democratic caucus? >> the reality is, alex, speaker
boehner can't have it both ways. he can't say he wants to have a fair and balanced select committee and at the same time rig the committee and use the committee for fund-raising. and that's what the republican caucus, even before he announced who was going to be on the committee or even gave any indication of what the rules of engagement were going to be. quite frankly, alex, the leadership and leader pelosi continue to talk to the speaker in the hopes that we will actually have a fair, open and balanced committee that democrats would be proud to serve on. right now i don't see that happening. >> congressman, there have been sort of several democratic preconditions that have been put out there as far as what it would take to get democrats to sit on this committee, and one of them was an even number of democratic and republican seats. that seems to no longer be even an option. it seems like democrats have given up on that part of, i will call it the wish list.
is that accurate? >> well, i don't think we've given up on anything at this point because we're still talking to the speaker. but in essence, alex, what we're talking about, especially as it pertains to the rules of engagement and subpoena power, that this not be done in a partisan way, that it be done not only in consultation with the minority, the democrats, but that we have to sign off on that as well. leader pelosi has pointed out that the select committee that was put together in a previous congress on climate control issued one subpoena. that subpoena had the support of all the members of our committee, democrat and republicans alike. we don't see something like that happening under this select committee where it's a 7-5 republican advantage, where it's the republicans run rough shod as they have in the full committee and not really uncover anything new in benghazi. you know, alex, it's done also with these families suffering once again, watching their loved ones and their memories be used
for fund-raising purposes by the republican majority is simply outrageous and it needs to stop. >> congressman joe crowley, thank you, as always, for your time and thoughts. >> thank you, alex. joining me now is editor at large of salon, joan walsh and luke russert. joan, let me go to you first here. it seems like there is a new page in the democratic playbook that let's try to delegitimatize this. we've given up on trying to get republicans to shut down the process, the ball is in motion. let's try to delegitimatize it inspect terms of the rules and regulations as much as possible, whether that's the number of seats, whether that's subpoena power, whether that's access to documents. do you think that's a good strategy? >> i do. i mean i wrote earlier this week that i think they should boycott it, so i'm a hard liner on this. i think they have no reason to expect this will be a fair process, alex. i think we can look at what darrell issa did. you showed in your intro those wonderful clips of him cutting the mike on elijah cummings like
a thug. slit his throat, cut the mike. >> shut it down, shut it down. >> you know, the way that congressman cummings has been treated is very telling. he's been treated with disrespect. the way their investigation and interviews have been selectively leaked to make the white house look bad and leave out things that have exonerated the white house on various scandals. so i see no reason for the democrats to participate. and that amazing tweet that you showed -- >> from the speaker's office. >> from speaker boehner, with kind of pin-up photos of the super seven, the magnificent seven, there's no reason from anything that we've seen so far to think that that's going to be -- that this is going to be any kind of a fair process. >> it's like an nfl draft but it is actually an investigative committee that is looking into deaths of four american citizens abroad. luke, let me ask you about this select seven. what is your read on it?
we know there are a couple of folks that have legal experience, but there are also some pretty hard core conservatives. lynn westmoreland is the deputy chairman of the nrcc, the national republican congressional committee, which has been fund-raising off of the benghazi select committee. what is the message the speaker is trying to send here? >> well, it's an interesting mix of establishment loyalists and sort of hard right-wingers. you look at jim jordan of ohio who used to be head of the rsc which is a group of conservatives within the house gop conference as well as pomp deo and westwestmoreland. these guys on the hard right are not the type of ones that totally stray away from leadership. they're not the jason sort of chaffitz, the ones that tell the leadership to shove it. they'll say things that are probably to the right of john
boehner, eric cantor and kevin mccarthy, but they'll be reeled in when necessary. what you're seeing here is boehner really exerting control, exerting authority and that's what this really comes down to. nancy pelosi hit it right on the head. issa in the view of his colleagues is damaged goods. they did not want him moving forward on benghazi because they felt after the release of the newest e-mails they had of a story or a line they were able to push and the big fear is that darrell issa, every single time he gets the power to investigate something screws it up because it becomes all about darrell issa and they go down a rabbit hole. john boehner is very aware of that. he saw that there is a consternation amongst his colleagues about issa going too far out on this. there is debate between people that said there wasn't much here. issa and others saying this would be the next watergate. this is boehner exerting control, giving the red meat to his base. they don't have any other
legislative agenda to talk about so they go forward on this. >> that's the issue, right? there's nothing else there. we have the chart that has now been seen by many comparing mentions of benghazi to the aca. the aca, there's good news on that front. so what do you fill that hole with. i think the hurdle is benghazi has not had a history of litigation in the same broad-based fashion that the aca has. if you look at spending, benghazi ads accounted for just 0.5% of the 227,000 overall campaign spots since the start of 2013. what boehner appears to be doing and these appointees is trying to mainstream benghazi, to make it an issue republicans can run on. right now it is the stuff of fringe conservatives. >> and they haven't put their money behind it and enough time behind it for their uses, and so it does -- it does look like they're going to try to mainstream it. you know, we did -- we have to go back to 2012. mitt romney really tried to make
this an issue. the night it happened, he stood up, he called the president's response disgraceful. the president hasn't even responded. they tried for a month -- or two months almost to make the american people care and to make people believe that the president had done something wrong. it didn't work. they have been trying ever since. it's now more than 18 months. i don't think that they're going to find anything, but, you know, luke is right, they don't have a legislative agenda. we're not going to be talking about the minimum wage, we're not talking about income inequality, they can't repeal obamacare so you're going for scandal. you've got lynn westmoreland who's called this president uppity. this is what they're trying to do, delegitimatize the president, scandalize the democrats and of course hurt hillary clinton. >> but not legislate. as long as no legislation actually happens. joan walsh and luke russert, thank you both for your time. after the break, more subpoenas from the house but not for benghazi. this time it's veterans affairs
secretary eric shinseki. we will talk about deadly wait times at the doctor's office when pulitzer prize-winning journalist david wood joins me next on "now." when folks think about what they get from alaska, they think salmon and energy. but the energy bp produces up here creates something else as well: jobs all over america. engineering and innovation jobs. advanced safety systems & technology. shipping and manufacturing. across the united states, bp supports more than a quarter million jobs. when we set up operation in one part of the country, people in other parts go to work. that's not a coincidence. it's one more part of our commitment to america.
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a whistleblower, an alleged secret waiting list and a growing scandal at the va. secretary eric shinseki has agreed to testify next thursday before the senate veterans affairs committee to answer allegations that the agency covered up evidence of va facilities manipulating medical records to hide excessive and sometimes deadly wait times. that invitation comes alongside a house committee which voted
yesterday to subpoena a month's worth of e-mails and correspondence between shinseki and seven of his top officials. the accusations at the center of all this focus on staff at a va medical center in phoenix. that staff is accused of hiding long wait times on a secret list and then destroying that list when investigators closed in. dr. samuel foote, who spent decades working for the va, was the first to allege that the hospital kept the alternate list of patients with long wait times in an effort to improve the medical center's record. >> this was basically an elaborate scheme to cover up patient wait times and cover up patients that we didn't have providers for. again, the main problem was we had a huge demand and we had relatively limited supply of service. >> as many as 40 veterans may have died while waiting for care. at a town hall in phoenix moments ago, a veteran's widow, vicki olson, said her husband was told again and again by the va to just be patient.
>> i'm here to tell you that my dead veteran husband cannot be much more patient than he is today, but me, i'm pissed. >> secretary shinseki has now ordered a face-to-face audit of all clinics at medical centers nationwide. with some calling for his resignation, he told nbc news the agency is working to make sure that whatever is ald in phoenix never happens again. speaking at that same town hall arizona senator john mccain said it may not be a matter of who stays in his or her job, but who goes to jail. >> look, if these allegations are true, if these allegations are true, they are a violation of law and it's not a matter of resignations, it's a matter of whether somebody goes to jail or not. >> joining me now is senior military correspondent for the
huffington post and pulitzer prize winner david wood. dave, thanks for joining me. i was shocked when i first heard about this story insofar as the pressure on the va seems inordinate given the fact that they were willing to let veterans die just to preserve their record keeping and reputation in terms of service. >> well, hold on, alex. these are allegations. the fact is that unlike benghazi, we don't really know what happened here. they're pretty serious allegations, and if they're true, i tend to agree with john mccain that somebody needs to be held to account. but let's wait for the va inspector general, who's at phoenix and also at san antonio va medical center where there have been similar allegations raised and let's see what the investigations find out, because the fact is at this point we don't know. >> well, okay, given what we do
know, do you think -- i mean does it surprise you that the va is under this pressure? we have talked so much about the backlog, about veterans getting lost in the system, about resources not being adequate to handle the number of people, the number of veterans that are ill, that need medical help, that need help in general. it seems like that pressure has mounted to -- again, if this stuff is true, that pressure has mounted to a degree where the veterans affairs office could be implicated in a major scandal. >> well, yeah, it will be interesting to see how far back this problem goes. i personally think that secretary shinseki has been so adamant that no veteran should have to wait for medical care, for mental health care, for gi bill, for home mortgage, for all the things that the va does, that no veteran should have to wait. and so he imposed this rule that
every veteran who calls up for an appointment with his doctor be seen within ten days. well, the fact is that the va can only hire as many doctors as their budget allows, and guess who approves their budget? congress. so there may be culpability that goes a long way here, but in the immediate alleged scandal in phoenix, what may have happened is that people were so scared about this edict from shinseki, you have to see everybody within ten days, that they may indeed have felt that they had to keep a secret waiting list because they couldn't get people in to see them that fast. so, you know, where does the responsibility go and where does it end? i don't know. but just to provide some perspective, the va runs 152 medical centers, big, big medical centers, and 841 community-based walk-in clinics.
and of all the six million or so veterans who accessed those last year, the satisfaction rate as measured by a national independent survey firm was 91%. that's pretty high. that's higher than for civilian, you know, ordinary american hospitals. so the va is doing something right. listen, i'm -- i join the hordes of people who complain about the va. one of the things that i complain about that's at the heart of this subpoena is that it's hard to get information out of the va. it's really hard to get good, hard data and the house veterans affairs committee under chairman miller has just been so frustrated that they can't find out, they can't get answers. and so they felt like the only thing they have left is to subpoena the secretary, which they have done, and hopefully we'll get some answers next
thursday when secretary shinseki testifies up on the hill. >> the huffington post dave wood, thank you as always for the wisdom and perspective, my friend. >> my pleasure, alex. coming up, dick cheney's home state does exactly what you would expect it to do on the issue of climate change. details on that are next. [ male announcer ] this is kevin. to prove to you that aleve is the better choice for him, he's agreed to give it up. that's today? [ male announcer ] we'll be with him all day as he goes back to taking tylenol. i was okay, but after lunch my knee started to hurt again. and now i've got to take more pills. ♪ yup. another pill stop. can i get my aleve back yet? ♪ for my pain, i want my aleve. ♪ [ male announcer ] look for the easy-open red arthritis cap.
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it makes me feel very good about the future of our company. ♪ don't tell republicans in congress, or do, but the white house is moving full steam ahead to improve america's immigration system. yesterday attorney general eric holder and education secretary arne duncan issued new guidelines to make clear that school districts across the country cannot turn away students whose parents may be undocumented. the action comes after years of reports that young people were being denied public education because schools were demanding visas are social security numbers as part of the enrollment process. in 2011, for example, alabama passed a law requiring schools to collect information about the immigration status of both students and their parents.
that law was later overturned. given the administration's renewed emphasis on fixing the country's broken and oftentimes very cruel immigration system, it seems as if the white house just may be taking a cue from this guy. >> in my heart and in my mind, i know that we must solve this problem once and for all or it will only get worse and it will only get harder to solve. >> senator marco rubio, the man who negotiated a bipartisan immigration deal in 2013 that passed the senate with 68 votes and then immediately went nowhere the minute it arrived on the doorstep of the house republican caucus along with rubio's ambition to get anything done. these days his heart and mind are apparently telling the gentleman from florida something very, very different. this week senator rubio told politico a comprehensive single piece of legislation on any topic, but especially on immigration, is going to be very difficult to achieve. we keep talking about the same
issue now for 15 years now and everybody is doing this all or nothing approach. all or nothing is going to leave you with nothing. a single piece of legislation like the one senator rubio helped pass less than a year ago, which, among his colleagues, yes, got him nothing. joining me now from washington is president and ceo of voto latino maria teresa kumar and former governor, bill richardson. governor, let me focus on i guess the good news which is that attorney general holder and secretary duncan are making clear that children cannot be -- education cannot be withheld from children based on papers their parents may or may not have. that seems like a good thing, but these piecemeal steps, do you think this is the right way to go about reform? >> well, it is a good, bold step that is important because it affects kids. this is becoming -- had been
becoming a problem in states like new jersey and georgia, even in new mexico and florida where school districts were unilaterally asking for legal documentation of legal immigration status, which is against a 1982 supreme court law. you can ask for, for instance, utility bills, leases, rent. so it was keeping kids out of school. it's a move and it's an administrative move by the administration that i think is welcome, it's important, it's going to send a message to school districts around the country. but i guess the mix here, alex, is that it doesn't look like there will be a comprehensive immigration bill, so i suspect the administration is doing, rightfully so, is taking executive actions like this that are needed, that are welcome. the next one i hope they consider is one that eases the two million deportations that are taking place. >> yeah, maria teresa, that's a
huge question for this administration, right? being tagged as the deporter in chief is something that seems to have deeply upset this president, and i wonder how much you think they can do in terms of executive action. jay johnson is reviewing immigration policy. but how much the white house can do to ameliorate the fact that two million people have been deported under this president. two-thirds of those people, according to "the new york times" -- two-thirds of those depour tagsz involved minor infractions or no crime at all. >> what we're talking about is basically 1,000 people being deported every single day in this country. folks being torn away either from their parents or from their children. and as we look towards mother's day, this is something you're going see across the country, real action. you're seeing a lot of asian, latino and their allies registering voters by the droves this weekend as a reminder that what we're talking about is really tearing up families. when we see what else can the
administration do, one set of objectives that is right now before jay johnson is looking at the idea of having individuals that are right now in the judicial system, in the detention system, have them the opportunity to have their time in court. right now close to 80% of individuals don't have that day in court. they're basically brought in, in front of a judge and basically immediately all given the same sentence. they're saying let's do it case by case and let people have a bond so they can spend their time while they're being processed not in a detention facility but with their families. i think those kind of instructions from the administration to i.c.e. in general and to the american people and to undocumented immigrants will say, you know what, we understand that the system is broken but we're going to do our best right now to make sure that it's not as tense and we're not tearing families apart. that said, while a lot of folks are skeptical that i think boehner wants immigration reform to pass, and we still have a
window between now and august for him to get something done. we're still working towards it and i think we can't basically pack our bags and go home until we force them to explicitly say they're not going to do anything. >> governor richardson, what do you think about that? i don't want to be a pessimist about this because immigration is something -- as the child of an immigrant i feel like it is a hugely important issue. not just for me personally but of course for the country and given the future of the country both economically and in terms of culture. i wonder what you think moves the gop. i thought it was remarkable that in florida this week, florida, which is not necessarily seen as a democratic bastion, the florida senate passed legislation on thursday that would allow the children of immigrants who are in the country illegally to receive in-state tuition fees. they are the 20th state to do that. do you think that has any effect on members of congress in the republican party? >> well, i am so saddened by the republican action, the tea party members in the house that
control the caucus there and speaker boehner has been trying to do something. first of all, i agree with that excellent presentation by my colleague on what steps could be taken. but i think on two grounds. the political grounds, you know, maybe republicans are going to save themselves this election cycle in the house, but for a presidential race, i think many hispanic voters are going to remember who stopped immigration reform. now, it hasn't happened, but i think our people have strong, strong memories. i think on the policy side, alex, comprehensive immigration reform creates jobs, it reduces the deficit, it improves our economy. the hb-1 visas bring in a lot of new skilled workers that we don't have. it's a good piece of legislation that was bipartisan put together in the senate. and it's going to be a shame if they just throw in the towel. i don't see a substitute.
now, there may be some that way let's have a little piece. i think there has to be full legalization, a strong legalization bill and border protection. i think those are the two essential elements. but i see the political time vanishing. it's now may. they're going to go back to their districts to campaign pretty soon. they won't want to get anything done in an election year, and the country will have suffered by not having a comprehensive immigration bill. our economy. and i think our moral leadership too. >> maria thereeresa, there's a notion that whether the president whether by calculating or happenstance setting the trap for the gop on immigration reform and immigration in general. every time he does something, whether through executive action or attempted legislation to ameliorate a broken system, it inevitably calls up all of these
statements, these badly worded, you know, letters sent to the president from republicans who inevitably, it's like they can't stop themselves, say something either derogatory or demeaning or redundant about their feelings on illegal immigration and immigration in general that is so desensitized that i feel it moves the republican party back two steps. >> well, i think that's -- alex, i think you hit the nail on the head. unfortunately the republicans, they hope to do one thing but in reality their actions are different. they keep bashing latinas and undocumented immigrants and basically, unfortunately, they -- by doing so they put themselves on a wall where all of a sudden the president is the one that actually looks like he has a way out by providing executive order. but what the president is really doing by creating these initiatives, what eric holder did yesterday reaffirming undocumented immigrant children will be allowed in the classroom, what they're doing is they keep shedding light on it
so that folks like us in the media, we don't stop talking about it, so we keep pounding and say, look, something has to be done. that's one of the tactical moves that the administration is doing, recognizing that they're limited in what they can do. the more they can resurface these items, all of a sudden everybody is talking about immigration and that's going to force the republicans into actual movement and doing something about it. >> it is the sweet spot of good policy and good politics. >> absolutely. >> and the democrats own it. maria teresa kumar and governor bill richardson, thank you both for your time. >> thank you, alex. >> thank you. coming up in the latest sign of the apocalypse, today burger king announced that it will serve burgers. yes, whoppers for breakfast. because apparently the croissan dwi ch and french toast sticks just aren't cutting it. that's next. is the better choice for him, he's agreed to give it up. that's today? [ male announcer ] we'll be with him all day as he goes back to taking tylenol. i was okay, but after lunch my knee started to hurt again.
there more hours in the day to eat hamburgers, there is finally a solution. the burger king breakfast burger. previously customers had to wait until the late, late hour of 10:00 a.m. or in some extreme cases 10:30 in the morning to buy a whopper. no longer. now customers will be able to wake up, grab a coffee and have that, all while most people are still gnoshing on cereal. burger king has extensive offerings, including the whopper, double whopper, big king and bacon double cheeseburger. for breakfast. coming up, i will find out what author and "new york times" food columnist mark about itman thinks about burgers for breakfast and why it might be just a little bit of a problem for us in the future. but first, sue herera has the cnbc market wrap. hi, sue. >> hi, alex. i can't wait for that interview. here's a look at how stocks
stand going into monday morning. the dow jones industrial average did manage to close at a new all-time high up 32 points. the s&p gained almost 3 and the nasdaq rebounded to close up 20. that's it from cnbc. we are first in business worldwide. alex is back after a quick break. new private sector jobs... making new york state number two in the nation in new private sector job creation... with 10 regional development strategies to fit your business needs. and now it's even better because they've introduced startup new york... with the state creating dozens of tax-free zones where businesses pay no taxes for ten years. become the next business to discover the new new york. [ male announcer ] see if your business qualifies. we are the thinkers. the job jugglers. the up all-nighters. and the ones who turn ideas into action. we've made our passions our life's work. we strive for the moments where we can say, "i did it!" ♪ we are entrepreneurs who started it all...
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>> a columnist more than 13 years, mark bitman has dispensed simple, affordable, delicious recipes but it's always been linked to do world around us. this week he published the vb 6 cookbook. vegan before 6, his kind for a diet that is both healthy and sustainable. as he writes, food touches on everything. you can't discuss it without considering the environment, health, the role of animals other than humans in this world, the economy, politics, trade, globalization or most other important issues.
now bittman is turning his attention to another one of those issues. starting on monday he will host two episodes of "years of living dangerously" the series about the real world effects of climate change. his first episode focuses on the havoc wreaked by hurricane sandy. >> we're going to make a left turn onto brook avenue. all of the homes in this area, there's only one still standing and there's nobody living on that street either, but there was all homes here. >> wow. >> joining me now is columnist and writer for "the new york times" and author of the vb6 cookbook, mark bittman, thanks for joining me. >> great to be here. >> so food is a locust as you outlined in that line we just read for everything basically but especially in terms of the environment. i feel like the intersection of food and sustainability is something we're just beginning to understand and also food and
climate change. how climate change creates food insecurity. that seems like a huge untapped like area of discussion amongst foodies. >> well, one of the -- actually one thing i was surprised about "years of living dangerously" which doesn't that totally give you the chills, is we didn't even get into it. so i'm hoping there's a season two because this agriculture/climate change thing is huge. depending on what numbers you use, agriculture is either the first and second biggest contributor of greenhouse gases in the united states, so it's a huge deal. but this sort of low focus of -- junction of food, agriculture, health, the environment, it's just -- it's just huge. but the interesting thing is what you do for yourself is good for the environment and what you do for the environment is good for yourself. >> right. it's a virtuous cycle. >> it is a virtuous cycle. >> you also talk, and you've been outspoken on this really important issue of sustainability not just in terms
of food sourcings and food chain but also in terms of the workers and the people who make the food. i've got to ask you, the president today did a big environmental sort of green energy announcement at walmart, which is, i think for a lot of us who have been focused on economic inequality and looking at a livable wage, there's some real questions to be asked about the role of walmart, which is the country's largest retailer. >> the world's. >> the world's, and has the capacity to create massive change across the sector. at the same time to keep it cheap, they make choices. i wonder what you thought about today's announcement and more broadly whether walmart is capable of leading the charge in terms of sustainability. >> i sort of get what the president and mrs. obama are doing in that regard because they see it as a place where if they can make progress, it's going to affect everything else. but i hope he talked to them about the minimum wage while he was there. i hope he talked to them about health insurance while he was there. because, you know, they have -- they could be a force for good,
but we really haven't seen that. it's still in the potential. it's not -- it's not like they're our heroes or anything. >> what about like -- i mean fast food and we led into this segment before talking about burger king making burgers available at like 9:00 in the morning, as if anybody needs that. the fast food worker movement just sort of focusing attention on what has happened to these workers, whether it's employer abuses, whether it's the money that they make, whether it's the food that they're actually producing, where do you see that sector going in the future? >> i think actually the most encouraging thing about the food movement, if there is such a thing, is that three years ago we wouldn't be having this discussion. and right now, everybody who's aware of food and the problems with food in this country is also aware that there are 10 million restaurant food service workers in this country and virtually all of them are underpaid. and that's -- you know, that's really a big thing that we are recognizing that rights of laborers really matter. >> i have to ask you as someone
who writes about food and knows about eating, like what do you make of the burger king stuff but also these crazy franken foods that have been invented, like domino's has chicken bites with pizza toppings. kfc has the doubledown, of course. on one level it feels like there's this highly educated stream of responsible consumers and then you look at what huge chains and huge food companies are doing in terms of what they're inventing for the american public and it feels like they missed the memo entirely. >> well, it's very hard to unpack that. it's a big country and a super complicated question. i think the bottom line is that we're eating 20%, 25% more calories per person than we were 20 or 30 years ago. you know, it doesn't matter if burger king serves burgers for breakfast. you know, whether you eat a burger king burger or mcdonald's sausage biscuit, i mean it doesn't matter. we were talking about this before we went on the air.
what matters is that we don't have a lot of healthy, normal, reasonable choices. you know, there should be baskets of fruit in places. i mean -- some of this is the simplest stuff in the world. so burger king decides, well, we have to get further into the breakfast market, i guess we'll serve. yeah, but it's -- it's just a drop in the bucket. it's not like it's a big deal. >> so the doubledown is not a sign of the apocalypse? >> no, i don't even think it's close. i think you have 5% or 10% of the country who are really eating pretty well. i think you have another 80% who are conscious of what needs to be done but the choices are hard to make. it's not that easy. it's not as simple as saying i'm going to eat better. you have to really -- >> be conscious. >> yeah. >> which is why they need to buy the vb6 cookbook. >> i didn't say it. >> you're still on the vegan before six. >> yeah, seven years. >> it's habit. i'm impressed, mark bittman,
thank you for your time. you can catch mark's episode of "years of living dangerously" monday on showtime. we will have more for you coming up after the break. (music) defiance is in our bones. defiance never grows old. citracal maximum. calcium citrate plus d. highly soluble, easily absorbed. [ female announcer ] there's a gap out there.
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our passion to make it real. ♪ that's all for now, "the ed show" is up next. good evening, americans, and welcome to "the ed show" live from detroit lakes, minnesota. i'm fired up, ready to go! let's get to work. are you with me? are you fired up? are you ready to go? >> once again this week republicans continue our focus on the number one issue in the country. >> what exactly are the plans of the other side right now? something benghazi. >> i love you back. >> i know i'm preaching to the choir. ♪ >> you've got to get the vocal